27 February 2009

If Not Now, When? Ending the Drug War

Wizard's culture-jammed version of a print ad for a popular cleanser envisions potential benefits of medicinal cannabis, still illegal in 36 states, if US researchers were freed of prohibition-mandated limitations.

IF NOT NOW, WHEN? Ending the drug war
By Mariann G. Wizard / The Rag Blog / February 27, 2009

As The Rag Blog reports on important developments in Washington, DC and in California within the last few days, in which the idea of ending cannabis ("marijuana"; hemp) prohibition has overnight become politically possible for elected and appointed government officials to discuss in public, it is important to realize a few bottom-line truths:

1. Cannabis prohibition and the so-called war-on-drugs have become deeply rooted in our society, and even if federal prohibition were overturned tomorrow, in an unprecedented act of Congressional lucidity and courage, it would take much longer to root out its remnants in public housing policies, educational loan discrimination, employment discrimination, and more. The beast has grown strong since 1937.

2. There are ten thousand reasons to legalize cannabis, for every purpose and use that clever men and women can devise. The only reasons to continue prohibition are:
a) to continue locking up ordinary men and women who have done nothing more than smoke pot, to the detriment of themselves, their families, and society as a whole; and/or
b) to increase the importance of prison-building, prison-supplying, prisoner-exploiting, urine-testing, fake-drug-"rehab"-program-running, snitch-and-narc character traits, and prison-guard-as-employment-preference in the Land of the Free, while thousands of rape kits go unopened, and crimes of violence unpursued, in police agencies across the country.

3. The escalating drug violence in Mexico, and the mounting death toll, may be laid squarely at the feet of an unscientific, unconstitutional, immoral, and ignorant attempt to flout the law of supply and demand, and of people like you and me, who know the truth, and allow their elected representatives to think differently. In breaking news on Friday, Arizona's Attorney General suggested that US marijuana legalization could end Mexico's cartel violence.

4. All those silly, hippy-dippy things you heard about "hemp" in the 1980s: that it is a renewable, nontoxic fuel source; that it is a fabulous, nutritious food; that anything that can be make from plastic can be made from biodegradeable hemp -- ARE ALL TRUE. They were true in 1920 when the Scientific American wrote about them, and they will continue to be true -- AND OTHER COUNTRIES WILL BENEFIT FROM ACTING ON THE KNOWLEDGE -- until Kingdom come! Failure to act upon it will more surely consign our nation to the dustbin of history than any terrorist plot.

The announcement that the Drug Enforcement Agency will no longer attempt to enforce federal laws where they conflict with state statutes regarding medical marijuana use; the introduction of legislation in California, no matter how unlikely its passage, to legalize, regulate, and tax the number one cash agricultural crop in America; and the recognition by corporate news shapers that the "wacky tobacky" has much more to offer than a doper's "pipe dream", are visible twigs floating on top of a deep, broad, fast-moving river of change. They are joined by the El Paso City Council majority's desire for an open and honest public discussion of drug prohibition; by Harris County (Houston) judges calling for legal treatment of cocaine to be the same as for high-fructose corn syrup; and by many more visible signs that the tide of the drug war has turned. The only people who still claim that prohibition "works", or is valid on any grounds, are people who make a living from it (including certain media hacks, of course)!

But it will still take courage to win through to the potential victory, a victory with far-reaching positive benefits for the US and the world, a world that could know bounty, for once, and peace. Isn't that what we've been working for all these years? Wouldn't that be worth an occasional doobie?

President Obama's official stance is that he is "not in favor of legalizing marijuana." But even that much is far different from what every previous president since Reagan has tried to promulgate, and I assure you, my dearly beloved, lazy homo dopers out there, riding the pineapple express, that if enough of YOU are for legalization, we will (eventually) be able to win him over. It is this simple: stand up for what you know is right. Tell the people you elect to represent you to end cannabis prohibition. Do it now.

[Mariann G. Wizard was among original Rag founders and is a frequent contributor to The Rag Blog. She reviews scientific and regulatory publications for the Austin, TX-based American Botanical Council.]

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